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Medicine To Prevent Maternal Deaths Shows Promise

Representative Image: Reuters

Representative Image: Reuters

Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is the single largest cause of maternal deaths.

The inhaled form of a medicine may help prevent mothers from dying in childbirth due to more bleeding than normal, show results of a human trial.

The inhalable, dry-powder form of the drug oxytocin, which is already used as an injection to prevent maternal deaths due to postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) or postpartum bleeding, may be of particular relevance for low and low-middle income countries.

As an injection, oxytocin requires refrigeration and a skilled medical professional to administer it safely.

In low and low-middle income countries, one or both of these requirements may not be available.

This first in-human data offers hope to women in resource-constrained settings who do not currently have access to this essential medicine, said Michelle McIntosh, project leader at Monash University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) in Australia.

"These results show that oxytocin can be delivered similarly via inhalation or injection and, therefore, we are less likely to be required to conduct the extensive and costly trials needed for an entirely new drug," McIntosh said.

Every year, over 300,000 women in low and low-middle income countries die during pregnancy and childbirth, the researchers said.

Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is the single largest cause of these deaths.

The study demonstrated, in a small cohort of non-pregnant female volunteers, that the effects that inhaled oxytocin has on the body are not meaningfully different from its injected counterpart.

The results of the first in-human trial of the new formulation were announced on Tuesday at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

Researchers at MIPS, in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline in London, developed the inhalable, dry-powder form of oxytocin.

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